Today I used the internet to talk to my cousin. My cousin is a couple of years older than me so I can relate to the things he is going through. At the same time, I could never imagine what it must feel like to be in his shoes. My cousin is training in Oklahoma to be sent to fight in Iraq. Not only is he going to one of the most dangerous places in the world currently, but he is also destined for one of the most dangerous jobs: a gunner on a Humvee. I can’t even begin to understand what he must be feeling, and the scariest part is I might never see him again.
I continued my conversation with my cousin. We had a conversation of small-talk, continually avoiding the fact that he is leaving in May. I asked him about the weather and he said that it was about 70 in Oklahoma. He went on to say, “In Iraq it gets up to 100 during the day. Add 25 degrees to that with gear on.” I didn’t know how to respond to this. I ended up telling him not to think about that because he would be home before he knew it. I then told him I loved and missed him and he told me the same. I was about to log off the internet when he messaged me one last time. The message read, “Thank you. It was really good talking to you.” I responded by saying, “You’re welcome, I’ll talk to you later.” Then I proceeded to log off the internet. I took a deep breath and then I cried. I cried for a long time. It is so hard to believe that so few words could mean so much to me, but, at that point in time, nothing mattered more. Not school, not sports, not clothes, not shoes, not anything.
The small exchange of words between two people can mean nothing or it can mean the world. I believe in putting my heart into everything I say because I’ll never know if it’s the last thing I’ll ever say to a person. I believe in communication because words are the strongest force one can use.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.